The Tools we Work with; Part I

Waking up and finding the motivation to keep going, to clean the house, to go to the gym, to smile, to paint, to write, to confront your boss, to make a healthy meal, to run, to interact, to grow – is not easy. So we’re here, trying to figure out how to work ourselves up to it. How do we pull ourselves forward when everything screams to just survive?

Well, survival itself is pretty impressive, and don’t doubt yourself that. If you want more though and you find that you can’t seem to do it alone, then search out the tools to bring you further.

Each person is entirely different and so we all need different tools, what I am about to say is what has worked for me (most of the time). If this doesn’t sit well with you, then move on to something else. There is something out there waiting for you to grab onto and use to your advantage, you just have to keep looking.

The first tool to ever change my life is one that has affected many people over the centuries; yoga. I know, I know it is so typical, but hear me out first. It’s not the enlightening story you’re expecting, I promise.

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Let me start by saying that I am not a yogi. I can not do any impressive poses. My daily practice is at the foot of my bed with a decrepit thing I call a yoga mat. It is infiltrated by dogs and people alike, and it involves me lying on back more often than not. I’ve been doing yoga for about six years, off and on, and that’s the sum of it now. That’s also how I like it, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

My practice started out a long, long way from there. It began in the throes of a depression that I didn’t understand. I was somewhere between 19 and 21, living in my own apartment with my (at the time) boyfriend. I had everything I had wanted when I was 18. Except it was the middle of winter, we were sharing a car, and I  hated my job. Of course I still thought that I should be undeniably happy (not having any clue that happiness really does come from within) and hated myself for not. I decided I needed to be active. On the endless list of Facebook articles talking about depression, exercise always seemed to be one of the top ways to fight it. Well, it was winter, I rarely had my car, and I was dirt poor. Solution? A ten dollar yoga mat and a five dollar video for yoga beginners.

Like any freshly motivated person I started off excited, I would do yoga every day! I would get in such great shape! I would take over the world! Yeah, okay. The video was a strange woman that looked like she was fresh out of the eighties walking me through uncomfortable poses that my body never seemed to make it’s way into, while still somehow boring me to death. I fell asleep in every shavasana. Committing to my practice was like dragging cement blocks, I had no inclination to keep it up. I rarely did for that first year. More often than not I forgot about the mat in the corner. Except there was a small part of me that could find a semblance of peace in my practices, every once in a while. My depression was a persistent haunt, and so I would come back to the practice again. In between testing out other antidotes, writing, running, and hiding in my house, I would test yoga again. Again it would surprise me with a deeper breath that made me feel light, a pause in a pose that would make me feel sane. I started meditating, as regularly as I practiced my yoga, but still I started.

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Eternally distracted by this beast. 

My mom, my forever support system, the strongest force I’ve ever known, encouraged me. She had never done yoga but she bought me books with how to’s, she would bring home card decks with different poses, talk about classes she had seen or heard of. My practice grew with her persistent care, and my own love for it.

Eventually I found the door that brought me fully into an appreciation for yoga. Searching through the depths of Youtube for a half decent instruction video I stumbled into Yoga with Adrienne. A friendly woman with an arsenal of strange references (that I didn’t get yet), who kept making me giggle in the depths of an intense pose when I was sure I would die. She talked about following the breath, moving with the pose, not trying to do the pose but experience it. She made me laugh and encouraged me with words I had never allowed myself to hear. She made me cry, a lot, with a joy that I genuinely had no idea existed with in myself. She brought up ancient hurts while I sat deep in a squat and my heart collapsed, and she gave me the chance to sit with them, and slowly, in tiny increments, fall in love with myself. There is a lot of internet (and real, I’m sure) love for this woman. And while I have never met her in real life, never even interacted with her, I would count her as a friend, and as a mentor, and to some degree, this is a letter to her. A thank you note, even though I really could never express my gratitude for what she gave me.

She gave me yoga. Yoga in the way that I needed it. An experience, a journey, a place to explore my heart. It became like a religion to me, without all the scripts. Just being there, just finding myself and an unending potential I’d been denying all of my life. I may have begin the journey, but she pointed out the path.

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So obsessed that I had a class for my birthday, instructed by the amazing Jess P. surrounded by loved ones. 

Now, I’ve gone to real life classes (that my mom brought me too, she is that phenomenal) where I’ve met other instructors who brought me to physical and emotional places I thought I could never go. I’ve gone to yoga classes alone and pushed myself further than I ever imagined. Yoga has made me feel stronger, and not just like I can do 108 push ups, but that I can carry myself in the darkest places, that what I thought were my weaknesses are my strengths.

I’m almost 26 now, and I’m just beginning to really explore my own practice, just beginning to think of taking other opportunities to explore it. I didn’t finish that first video six years ago and find enlightenment, or even a better attitude that day. I just found a tool that could help me get there, and with a hell of a lot of work, I’m getting there. My practice is still on a torn up, dirty mat where I lay on my back, and sometimes just cry, and try really hard to breathe through that. I can’t do a handstand, I am not the most impressive person in a class. But I love my practice. I feel like love personified in my practice. I fall in love with myself because of my practice. It is a tool in my arsenal to fight the lethargy, the swallowing defeat. It is my tool that brings back my motivation, my love for life, my passions.

It started with a crappy video, took my moms persistent care, grew with a random Youtube video, and I’m still growing under my own gentle encouragement. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life, and yoga helped me get here. If this post encourages you to go out and buy a cheap mat and search for the instructor who suits you (I obviously recommend Yoga with Adrienne, but we’re all different) then I couldn’t be happier. If it encourages you to meditate, or go for a run, or bake, or call an old friend, anything that helps you connect with your passions, then I couldn’t be happier. If it encourages you to try something new to connect more with yourself, to find that motivation a little easier, I couldn’t be happier.

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A picture of my motivating mom and extremely supportive brother practicing with me on my birthday. I love them. 

 

Please! Share with me what tools you use to motivate yourself! I would love to hear other ideas, suggestions, and stories. We’re all going through the same journey, and to hear about yours and share tricks of the trade makes me ecstatic!

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